Private sector banding together to propose high energy cost solutions

Written by  //  October 4, 2011  //  Economy  //  2 Comments

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PREPA's fuel adjustment charge has been the hot-button issue in recent weeks, as consumer bills continue to rise. (Credit: © Mauricio Pascual)

It seems as though everybody is looking for ways to drive down Puerto Rico’s mounting energy costs, which are strangling residential and commercial customers alike every month. On Monday, a large group of private sector representative came together to propose to the governor the creation of an independent body to find solutions in the short, medium and long term to deal with the problem.

Among the associations comprising the alliance is the United Retailers Association (known as CUD), the Marketing, Industry and Food Distribution Chamber (known as MIDA), the of Puerto Rico Manufacturers Association, the Puerto Rico Energy Cluster, the School of Architects and Landscape Architects of Puerto Rico, the Puerto Rico Real Estate Lessors Association, and the Gasoline Retailers Association.

“We represent the engine of economic development, aside from all being consumers. With our expertise in areas of administration, construction, management, finance and technology, we understand can offer a valuable contribution,” said Maria Judith Oquendo, president of the Puerto Rico Energy Cluster. “From this sector we can be more agile, objective and cohesive. Through this body we create we believe we have a chance to evaluate other energy alternatives.”

The alliance, which represents some 15,000 companies in Puerto Rico, hopes to incorporate other sectors — including labor and government — to guarantee the objectivity of the proposals. Each sector can lend their expertise regarding all of the elements that drive up energy costs, propose alternatives of energy sources that have been studied and successfully implemented in other countries, propose negotiation alternatives with the Puerto Rico Electric Company’s bondholders and develop a fuel adjustment formula based on actual costs.

The group also hopes that on or before 120 days, it could have a preliminary plan to start working immediately and see results in the short term.

“Our claim is the same as it is for all Puerto Ricans, which is to lower the cost of energy that is drowining all of us,” said Ignacio Veloz, president of the CUD. “In our particular case, this claim is stronger than ever as we’re the sector that we pays the most for electricity.”

“As a result, we’re limited from creating new jobs or expanding our businesses, which undoubtedly negatively impacts Puerto Rico’s economy.

Meanwhile, Rafael Castro, head of the Architects’ group, said PREPA’s model “should encourage energy saving in all sectors, as other jurisdictions do successfully.”

High energy costs have been an ongoing problem in Puerto Rico, where residential and commercial clients pay some of the highest rates in the world. Most recently, however, consumers have been expressing their dissatisfaction — some via Social Media outlets — with the way PREPA calculates monthly bills, specifically the fuel adjustment charge, which is neither explained nor broken down in the monthly bill.

Consumer pressure is apparently weighing on the agency, which in the last week has seen the exit of two executive directors.

2 Comments on "Private sector banding together to propose high energy cost solutions"

  1. Dunia F. Macgregor October 4, 2011 at 9:01 AM · Reply

    Encuentro miuy interesante el artículo y espero se pueda lograr éxito de esta unión de asociaciones.Te faltó incluir a la Cámara de Comercio de PR que es parte del grupo.

  2. Alexis Sanchez October 6, 2011 at 8:55 PM · Reply

    El problema de PR es que no acaba de entender que para poder competir en un mercado global tiene que convertirse en una sociedad eficiente. Cada sector debe aguantar su propia vela, no podemos no cobrarle a los municipios si estos mal gastan la electricidad y no buscan manera de ser mas eficientes. Si no pueden con la carga económica que se fusionen con otros municipios. Por otro lado, como pueden haber agencias de gobierno con deudas millonarias sin pagar, sino actúan responsables que las privaticen. Basta ya que el consumidor este pagando por las malas decisiones legislativas y ejecutivas. Que no se crean que PREPA por motivo propio otorgo los subsidios y acepta el impago de las agencias gubernamentales. Si no hacemos lo necesario para hacernos mas eficientes y por ende competitivos vamos a robarle el futuro a nuestros hijos. El momento de tomar decisiones antipáticas pero sabias administrativamente es ahora.

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